The stakes will keep getting higher, and this can only end badly for our young women in particular
Opinion: While this year’s Oscars were all about the slap, it didn’t stop us taking a good look at the frocks.
We ordinary folks love to ponder such ‘huge issues’ as how women manage to stay inserted in those dresses, how they sit down, and just how many thousands of hours of grooming has gone into it all.
A fair bit more than the shit, shower, shave approach of some of us.
All that pruning, plucking, waxing, oiling, peeling, lasering now has a name: glamour labour.
According to Katrine Marҫal, the author of Mother of Invention: How Good Ideas Get Ignored in an Economy Built for Men, it was pioneered by the trailblazing women influencers of the 2010s.
Glamour labour is the thinking and work that goes into making one’s life so appealing that you attract attention and the power to influence your followers’ purchasing decisions.
Glamour labour will likely involve hours of applying make-up, workouts, eyebrow tattooing and anything else needed to make your physical appearance match your brand.
It also involves staging and filters, and as Dolly Parton once said, “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap!”
Sculptured online celebrities have us believing that glamour labour is worth it. We too can look like them if only we eat the right food, drink the right goo, or wear the right lingerie.
Kim Kardashian is the queen of the glamour labourers. With her nearly 300 million followers, she tells us anyone can make it big, if we work hard enough (and follow her make-up tutorials and buy her look on her website).
Since the beginning of time, we humans have deemed some of us more attractive than others. We have probably always aspired to a socially created standard of beauty.
I know I did when I was a teenager. I pinched some of my mum’s peroxide and blobbed it on my fringe to emulate the lead singer of Duran Duran. Instead of suave blonde, I looked more like bedraggled pumpkin.
Back in my day, my exposure to influencers was limited to getting a magazine out of the library once a month or 30 minutes of Ready to Roll on Saturday night.
The difference now is those craving to be fashionable are bombarded with images of what counts as beauty. It comes through Instagram feeds constantly, 24/7. It’s not only clothes and hair, it’s duvets, and chairs and food and drink and what to insert where and what to think.
It involves oversharing influencers with no boundaries.
We are led to believe that attaining what they have is only a click away. Delivered by couriers right to our doorsteps overnight.
The work of glamour labourers is to catch our attention. Our likes are their pay. Attention-grabbing is a competitive market, so the stakes will keep getting higher, and the influencers hijinks potentially more extreme.
And this can only end badly for our young people, especially our young women.
Have a night out and see the work that has gone into the eyebrows, the eyeliner, the straightened hair, the blusher, and contouring.
The hundreds of dollars and hours of prep they’ve felt they’ve had to put into looking good is the best of it; the pressure to conform is far more sinister.